Andrew Goff / @ 11:47 a.m. / Fire

HOW’S THE SMOKE? Humboldt Air Quality Deemed ‘Unhealthy’ in Some Areas


Last night’s sunset courtesy LoCO reader Ronald Gibbens; LoCO reader Clayton Kelley’s ashy hood Thursday morning

It’s Ash Thursday!

Humboldters who go outside surely noticed last night’s angry red sunset and more than a few locals report awaking to a light dusting of ash on the hoods of their vehicles this morning. 

Both of these sky anomalies, of course, are due to the various wildfires burning up the interior, including the fast-moving lightning fires that make up the relatively new Eclipse Complex centered in western Siskiyou County near Happy Camp.

Since igniting Tuesday morning, Eclipse Complex fires have burned an estimated 11,029 acres. There are 765 fire personnel battling the fire which was 15 percent contained as of Thursday morning. 

The Eureka’s arm of the National Weather Service said areas “from Orick to Ferndale” should expect to see smoke from the fires. 

The North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District sent out an air quality advisory Thursday morning announcing “unhealthy conditions” for many eastern Humboldt communities and warned that smoke levels on the coast could be “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” 

More from the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District in the release below: 

For the following areas:

HUMBOLDT COUNTY: Klamath River Drainage (Orleans, Weitchpec Area).

Smoke levels in these areas are forecast to be in the Unhealthy range to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups for periods throughout the day and evening, and are creating a health hazard. These conditions could be problematic for those with health conditions. Air quality will remain diminished as offshore winds continue to push smoke from the wildfires into the Klamath River drainage. Smoke conditions will not significantly clear out but continue to spread and sit along the Klamath River drainage.

Smoke levels in coastal areas of Humboldt County are in the Good to Moderate range with periods of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. Offshore winds will continue to produce periods of spotty ground level smoke and ash in areas along the coast until weather conditions change. Smoke levels continue to be monitored. Updates will be provided as conditions change.

People are recommended to restrict outdoor activity.

  • Symptoms that may be related to excess smoke exposure include:
  • Repeated coughing
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing                                         
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Palpitations                                       
  • Nausea or unusual fatigue
  • Lightheadedness

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, contact your health care provider.  Please see the NCUAQMD’s General Public Service Announcement for recommendations on limiting smoke exposure.

For 24-hour Air Quality Advisory Information, call the NCUAQMD’s hotline toll-free at 1-866-BURN-DAY (1-866-287-6329), or visit the website at www.ncuaqmd.org.

Health Information for Smoke Impacts

Concentrations of smoke may vary depending upon location, weather, and distance from the fire. Smoke from wildfires and structure fires contain harmful chemicals that can affect your health. Smoke can cause eye and throat irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing.  People who are at greatest risk of experiencing symptoms due to smoke include: those with respiratory disease (such as asthma), those with heart disease, young children, and older adults.

These sensitive populations should stay indoors and avoid prolonged activity. All others should limit prolonged or heavy activity and time spent outdoors. Even healthy adults can be affected by smoke. Seek medical help if you have symptoms that worsen or become severe.

If you can see, taste, or feel smoke, contact your local health department and/or primary healthcare provider. This is especially important if you have health concerns, are elderly, are pregnant, or have a child in your care.

Follow these general precautions to protect your health during a smoke event:

  • Minimize or stop outdoor activities, especially exercise
  • Stay indoors with windows and doors closed as much as possible
  • Do not run fans that bring smoky outdoor air inside – examples include swamp     coolers, whole-house fans, and fresh air ventilation systems
  • Run your air-conditioner only if it does not bring smoke in from the outdoors. Change the standard air conditioner filter to a medium or high efficiency filter. If available, use the “re-circulate” or “recycle” setting on the unit
  • Do not smoke, fry food, or do other things that will create indoor air pollution
  • If you have lung disease (including asthma) or heart disease, closely monitor your health and contact your doctor if you have symptoms that worsen.

Consider leaving the area until smoke conditions improve if you have repeated coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain, palpitations, nausea, unusual fatigue, lightheadedness.

For 24-hour Air Quality Advisory Information, call toll-free at
1-866-BURN-DAY (1-866-287-6329).

For further information, visit the District’s website at
www.ncuaqmd.org


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